By Tammy M.\r\nGoodyear\r\nExecutive Director\r\nFarm Service Agency\r\nThe U.S. Department of Agriculture\u2019s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property.\r\nThese microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and midsized farming operations.\r\nMany producers, especially new and underserved farmers, tell USDA that access to land is one of the biggest challenges they face in establishing and growing their own farming operation. USDA is making it easier for new farmers to hit the ground running and get access to the land that they need to establish their farms or improve their property.\r\nThe microloan program, which celebrates its third anniversary this week, has been hugely successful, providing more than 16,800 low interest loans, totaling over $373 million to producers across the country. Microloans have helped farmers and ranchers with operating costs, such as feed, fertilizer, tools, fencing, equipment, and living expenses since 2013. Seventy percent of loans have gone to new farmers.\r\nNow, microloans will be available to also help with farm land and building purchases, and soil and water conservation improvements. FSA designed the expanded program to simplify the application process, expand eligibility requirements and expedite smaller real estate loans to help farmers strengthen their operations. Microloans provide up to $50,000 to qualified producers, and can be issued to the applicant directly from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).\r\nThis microloan announcement is another USDA resource for Americas farmers and ranchers to utilize, especially as new and beginning farmers and ranchers look for the assistance they need to get started. To learn more about the FSA microloan program visit www.fsa.usda.gov\/microloans, or contact the Patrick FSA office at (276) 694-3121.